Friday Lightning Round: Charles in charge

Krauthammer wins weekly honor


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 19, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for their choice online. This is our Friday Lightning Round. This week Charles pick won with 62 percent of the vote. No speech tonight, Charles, because we're short on time. What is the question?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Given Candy Crowley's appalling performance in the debate -- you will notice this is an extremely objective and nonjudgmental question -- should the next debate and all debates after that be moderated by Alex Trebek? Give the question. Get out of the way. If not, why not?

Now, the correct answer is yes, Alex Trebek, or perhaps "Who is Alex Trebek?"


KRAUTHAMMER: But the reason is simple. We have 300 hours a year of Sunday talk shows, where there is an inquisition of the politician. We have four-and-a-half hours every four years of the candidates for the presidency alone on the stage. Leave them alone. Let them argue and debate and fact check each other. That is not the role of the moderator. That is the correct answer. And I'm interested in hearing any dissension.

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Dare I say no? The only thing I would quibble with is I don't think that Candy Crowley was that terrible except for that one moment. I prefer Jim Lerher approach, which is closer to what Charles is say, which is let them go at each other.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I agree with Kirsten. I think it's more of a Jim Lehrer approach.  You just want them to be there, shape the debate. Help formulate the questions and then get out of the way. But don't step on them, and don't fact check unless you know the facts you're correcting are actually wrong.

BAIER: So that leads to us the debate on Monday. Bob Schieffer in the chair as moderator, sitting down. The format is -- the questions, two-minute answers. But more like this going back and forth in the subject areas for a while. Steve?

HAYES: I think Bob Schieffer does a good job on "Face the Nation." I have confidence that he'll do a good job here the other night. The big question is how much time is he going to spend on Libya? And will he ask questions in a way -- in the aggressive sort of way, that they need to be asked at this point in order to draw information out of the president.

BAIER: But that doesn't sound like get out of the way.

Kirsten: Yeah but --

HAYES: Look, ask the questions, be aggressive, and then get out of the way.

POWERS: Here is the thing. Let Mitt Romney and Obama interact. And Mitt Romney needs to be better prepared than he was in the last debate. And he should not give up until he gets to the bottom of it. That is what I would do if I was him.

KRAUTHAMMER: The reason that Romney did not win the debate, the second debate running away, is that he whiffed on the hanging curveball on Libya. It was just hanging out there and he missed it. But he's very lucky he gets a second chance.

I think he has to hammer Obama -- don't rely on the moderator – hammer Obama on the statement that he is offended that anybody would even imply he misled. You go through a catalog of misleading and you go after the statement that the president made that every piece of information is laid out. It's a question of honesty and leadership.  It's not that people care so much about Libya, but they don't like our country humiliated and the leadership lying about it.

BAIER: By the way, quickly, got a lot of emails that you said President Obama won on points.

KRAUTHAMMER: He won points because I call them like I see them. But it was a narrow victory. And the fact that Romney had one high point, his one great answer on the economy, is the reason that the polls showed that on the economy, he won in that debate. And that neutralized its effect on the trajectory of the election.

BAIER: "Newsweek" going digital? No more print "Newsweek." Kind of a big moment.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it died several years ago. Tina Brown had kept it alive through rather skillful sensationalism. But you can't cheat the bottom line.

POWERS: This is just the way everyone's going to be going eventually. I think that this is the first of the sort of old great, you know, weeklies that will go this way.

BAIER: Steve?

HAYES: Emphasis on "old." I'm sad any time -- as a guy who writes for a magazine -- I'm sad any time a magazine goes under or has to go digital like this. But when is the last time you read the hardcopy of "Newsweek" magazine? A decade ago?

KRAUTHAMMER: And think of all the trees that will live as a result of this.

BAIER: But do you think that that's the way it's all going to go?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think magazines are completely obsolete. There may be a remnant of people who want to have a hardcopy newspaper. But they are probably old and dying.

POWERS: Just the idea of something that is a week old is not -- you know, we're used to getting everything instantly now. We're on Twitter getting our news. Why would we wait for this?

HAYES: There has to be room for solid, strong, well-sourced long form reporting in things that come in chunks of more than a sentence.

KRAUTHAMMER: That is what they said about the horse and buggy.

HAYES: That's why people should subscribe to the Weekly Standard.


BAIER: OK, after that promotional effort I'll try to stop the e-mails from flowing. We've had a couple of other e-mail generators tonight, too.

KRAUTHAMMER: I certainly hope so.

BAIER: I'll send them your way. That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for knowing your interview subject.

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